LPL Investment Holdings (LPLA), the parent company of LPL Financial, reported a fourth-quarter profit of $39.4 million, or 35 cents a share, compared with a loss of $116 million, or $1.20 a share, in the year-earlier period.
Excluding certain charges and other items, LPL earned 44 cents a share, two cents below the 46 cent average analyst estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters. Net revenue, though, rose 1%, to $828.7 million; analysts had expected sales of $876 million.
Total advisory and brokerage assets increased nearly 5% during the quarter to $330.3 billion vs. $315.6 billion a year ago. LPL said it added 172 new advisors during the fourth quarter, but this gain was offset by the loss of 124 advisors related to the UVest platform conversion. The firm ended 2011 with 12,847 advisors, up 3.2% percent from last year.
"Our integrated technology and services supported strong advisor productivity in 2011, reflected by high single-digit same-store-sales growth for our seasoned advisors, said Chairman and CEO Mark Casady, in a statement. "We delivered 12% top-line revenue growth.
Still, he acknowledged, the latest results included same-store-sales growth of less than 1% for the fourth quarter, “reflecting a shift caused by sustained market volatility and pronounced economic uncertainty.”
“We are monitoring these external trends closely as we enter 2012 and remain dedicated to positioning our advisors for success," Casady explained.
Total advisory assets under management were $101.6 billion as of Dec. 31, with net new advisory assets of $10.8 billion in 2011, including $1.0 billion of net new advisory assets during the fourth quarter.
“Advisors and financial institutions remained highly engaged with their clients, but together they have taken a more cautious view of the markets reflected by the increase in cash holdings and lower transaction levels,” said CFO Robert Moore in a statement. “Our new business pipeline has remained strong, and we continue to experience success in attracting advisors and financial institutions from all channels in the industry who value the breadth of our services and our focused business model.
For the year, commission revenue increased 8.2% compared to the prior year, and advisory revenue grew 19.4% compared to 2010. Assets under custody in the LPL Financial RIA platform, grew 68.1% to $22.7 billion as of Dec. 31, encompassing 146 RIA firms, compared to $13.5 billion and 114 RIA firms as of a year earlier.